Jaguars hold off Jackets, 28-26
Three attempts at comeback drives in the fourth quarter fell short for Lee County and the Yellow Jackets couldn’t overcome four touchdown runs by Athens Drive senior Dominique Lynch as the visiting Jaguars (2-1) handed the Yellow Jackets (2-1) their first loss of the season Friday night.
Lynch’s fourth touchdown of the game, a 7-yard run, plus the point-after kick made it 28-20 Jaguars with 7:57 left in the game.
Two snaps later, Lee County junior Jerry Pullum took a handoff from quarterback Duane Bland, burst through a hole by the Jacket line, then cut down the right sideline and raced 61 yards for a touchdown.
A Jacket pass was no good on the ensuing two-point try and the Jaguars led 28-26.
The Lee County defense tightened and gave the Jackets two more tries with the ball.
After a fine 17-yard punt return by Pullum set up the Jackets at the Jaguar 49, the Jackets moved as far as the Jaguar 12. The Jaguars stopped the Jacket ground game, mostly Bland and Pullum as the two combined for 224 yards on the ground, and forced the Jackets to try a 33-yard field goal with 1:28 left. Ian Frye’s kick fell barely short.
Lee County held the Jaguars to three-and-out and a punt, giving the Jacket offense 0:17 from the Lee County 37, but there was no last-second miracle.
Lee County opened the game impressively. After stopping the first Jaguar drive of the contest, the Jacket drove 80 yards in nine plays. Bland was 3-for-3 passing for 33 yards and rushed three times for 29 yards and a 10-yard shotgun option keeper into the end zone. With Frye’s kick, the Jackets led 7-0 with 3:27 left in the first period.
Athens Drive answered with a 60-yard drive and Lynch carrying in from nine yards out to tie the game early in the second quarter. Another Lynch TD, on a 2-yard run, capped a two-minute-drill drive by the Jaguars with 0:10 left in the half and put the visitors up 14-7 at the half.
Lee County tied the game with its second time with the ball in the third period. A 64-yard bomb from Bland to Keyonta McDougald deep down the left numbers put the Jackets on the Jaguar 11 and Pullum cut around the left side of the line and carried into the end zone on the next snap.
Bland finished the night going 12-for-20 passing for 174 yards along with 105 yards rushing. He also threw three interceptions.
The third Jaguar pick turned into points late in the third period. Starting out on the Jacket 40-yard line, Jaguar quarterback John Politis hit Otumos Payemanu for catches twice on the short drive and Lynch dashed 13 yards for a touchdown, making it 21-14 Jaguars with 2:01 left in the third.
The Jackets stung back immediately with a 72-yard drive for a touchdown. Bland took a broken play, a handoff where no one was there to handoff to, and ran 20 yards plus a 15-yard late hit call on the Jaguars to put Lee County deep into Jaguar territory. On a third-down play, Bland kept another option play and took it for a 19-yard touchdown run.
Athens Drive’s Jamie Barnes blocked the extra point for a key turning point, leaving the Jaguars ahead by a point with 0:20 left in the third.
Politis went 23-for-31 passing for 210 yards and Lynch carries 25 times for 96 yards and four touchdowns. The Jaguars played a turnover-free game.
Pullum led the Yellow Jackets on the ground with 12 carries for 119 yards and two touchdowns. McDougald had four receptions for 89 yards. Kahlese Arnold had four catches for 30 yards. Pullum had three catches for 47 yards.
The game was a rematch of the old Tri-Nine Conference series between the two schools. Athens Drive, still a 4A program, is in the new Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, the direct descendent of the Tri-Nine, while Lee County is in its first season in the 3A Cape Fear Valley.
After back-to-back weeks of facing 4A squads, the Yellow Jackets will go on the road to face 3A Western Harnett this coming Friday at 7:30 p.m.